Dion's random ramblings

Saturday, May 31, 2008

How to deal with difficult or negative people

I have had to do a lot of soul searching and reflection in recent months. It started when I decided that I would leave my role as the Dean of our Church's seminary to take up a serving role in the Global Day of Prayer / Lausanne / Transformation movement.

I knew then that I would face some challenges. Some would be 'internal' challenges (for example giving up a title, giving up influence, giving up power and control and simply learning how to be 'me' without having to be a title.) Let me tell you that God has shown me that I have needed to be stripped of my pride (if I hung onto my pride God showed me that I may end up my life with nothing in my hands except a business card! I would rather have LIFE and SIGNIFICANCE in my hands, having done God's thing!)

Then there would be the 'external' challenges. The organisation that I now serve is much more radically evangelical than I am, there are some elements of my theology and spirituality that differ from those that I serve and work with. There would be some severe criticisms and challenges from people that I love and trust (family, friends, and colleagues in the ministry). But, I was sure that God had called me to make this step, and to make this step in order to add value! Not to get a job, not to spend my life doing mediocre things, God had called me to spend my life giving it away to others - even when that would be difficult and costly.

Sadly, the cost of these challenges does weigh on one. I struggled quite a few times to make this transition, and still do so today. However, I want to serve God and serve God courageously! Well, as I do with most things I decided to tackle this problem by seeking some insight, input and help to deal with difficult people (people who have perhaps misread me, misunderstood me, or are perhaps angry at the choice I believe I was called to make)....

Well, that's my 'personal' stuff...

Perhaps you're dealing with much greater challenges and much more negativity than I am, so here's something that may help you. This is taken from here.


Negative people. They're like human black holes which suddenly come out of nowhere and just suck the life out of you. You try to stay positive and remain strong but their negativity ends up just completely draining you, you feel exhausted, and you may also start to feel depressed too.

So what can you do? One of the first things to do is to be aware of who the negative people are in your life. This may not be as easy as you first think.

Some very nice people are as Judy Orloff says in her book, "Positive Energy" are really energy vampires. Here's some of the signs she says to look for:

"- you experience a sense of being demeaned, constricted or attacked.
- you intuitively feel unsafe, tense or on guard.
- you sense prickly, off-putting vibes. You can't wait to get away from them.
- your energy starts to fizzle. You may feel beleaguered or ill."

She also refers to them by the following names which you might recognize: the sob sister, the blamer, the drama queen, the constant talker or joke teller, and the fixer-upper (requires endless help).

Also, pay attention to what the person talks about. Is it always about how bad things are? Do they just complain and never actually do anything about what's upsetting them?

Once you have a good idea on how to recognize them then you can actually work on protecting yourself from them. Here's 10 strategies on how to deal with negative people:

1. Where?s it coming from?
Do you understand why this person is so negative? Is it because they hate their job, feel frustrated, feel trapped in their life or do they lack in self esteem so the only way they can feel powerful is by hurting others? If you can understand where it?s coming from, it?s much easier to deal with. Some people seem to think that the only way they can get what they want is to be manipulative. Remember the saying, "the squeaky wheel gets the oil." They believe this and think that if they don't whine and complain that they won't be heard and that this is the only way to get what they want.

Remember that the negative behaviour is a reflection of them. It tells you what kind of person they are and what issues they may be dealing with. It's not a reflection of who you are.

2. Just smile and remain completely detached
Whenever the negative tirade starts just smile and don?t say anything. Remain completely detached from it and don?t get involved in it. Leave the room if you can. The negative person is simply seeking to get a reaction from you. That?s what they feed on. Don't let them catch you in their web of negativity because as soon as you do, that?s when they start draining your energy.

It's the emotions that these negative people stir up in you that you need to learn to distance yourself from. Try just observing the whole scene. Say to yourself, "what a shame this person is so unhappy. Maybe some of my positive energy will rub off on her. If not, her unhappiness has nothing to do with me." This isn't always an easy thing to do but definitely a powerful technique. In order to get the full benefit from it, you need to make sure that you're aware of what's going on around you. It's easy to slip into auto-pilot and not realize until later how drained you feel. You need to detach yourself from the event while it's happening and just observe it.

This works well for family members who you don?t really have a choice as to whether they?re in your life or not.

3. Say, ?Now tell me something positive.?
Right after they've finished telling you some tragic story, say to them, "now tell me a positive story". Some people have no idea how negative they?ve become. That's what they're surrounded by day in and day out so it?s just become a way of life for them. By being given the reminder, they may actually realize that being negative isn't the kind of person they want to be and may start to work on becoming more positive. Or, they may decide it's not worth telling you their horror stories because you'll ask them to think of something positive. Sob sisters (always whining, feel the world is against them, feel they're victims) will probably not find you very attractive anymore.

4. Imagine a bright white light surrounding you
Yes, this sounds silly but if you can do it, it?s amazing how much of a difference it can make. You'll feel that their negativity can?t touch you because you now have a force field protecting you.

I used to have a really nasty manager who would constantly try to make me feel like an idiot. When I had a shower in the morning, I would imagine that I was being covered with a protective oil so that any of her comments would just slide right off me. I also put up a post it note on my computer that said, ?Oiyli? which stood for ?Only if you let it?. It reminded me that her comments could only hurt me if I let them. If was my choice as to how to react to her.

5. Is it a sign?
I find that the ?universe? uses negative people as the way to get me to move on whenever I?m getting comfortable in a situation that isn?t challenging me anymore. It?s like a prod that I should be focusing more on following my dream rather than just getting caught up in a nice, comfortable routine that isn?t getting me anywhere. If I didn?t have these people, then I would probably just stay. So, sometimes I'm really grateful to these people because they're giving me the "kick" that I need.

6. What does it say about you?
Negative people want to get a reaction out of you. And the only way they can is if they hit on one your "buttons" or something that causes intense feelings for you. For example they may bring out past feelings of guilt or anger or make you feel like you're being rejected or that you're not good enough.

So, if there's one particular person who drains you the most, ask yourself why is it affecting you so much? Sometimes, you can learn a lot about yourself by analysing what feelings it's bringing up within you. Once you figure it out and deal with it then you'll find that the energy draining person simply has no power over you anymore.

7. Trying to feel needed
Is listening to the complaints of the negative person your way of feeling valued? Does it make you feel needed? If it does, then you need to start valuing yourself more and you?ll find that this just won't happen anymore. Be selective about who and how you help others. Just listening to negative tales over and over helps neither of you.

A good test to see if this is happening is to notice how you feel after "helping" someone. If you feel drained or tired or annoyed or frustrated then all you've done is given over your own energy to them. This isn't beneficial to you at all, and rarely does it help them in the long run.

8. Try saying, ?I love you, thank you, I?m sorry? over and over
This is kind of an "off the wall" kind of theory but it?s worth a try. If you want to read an article about how a doctor healed an entire mental institution simply by saying these words then read this story: Dr. Len. You can also listen to a couple of radio interviews with him on News for the Soul.

9. It?s not your fault
You may be feeling that you have to solve the problems of the energy drainer. You?re not responsible for the person?s life nor their negativity. You don?t have to feel guilty for them being unhappy. Let go of trying to fix or help them. That's not what they want anyway. They want your energy and so you have to be strong and not give in to them.

A suggestion by Judy Orloff for dealing with draining co-workers is to keep mentioning to the person that you have work to do and you can only listen to them for a minute. If after a few minutes, the person is still going on about the same thing then either change the conversation or politely but firmly end the conversation.

It's important to be able to let go of the idea that you owe everyone a solution. With some people you just have to let them go. They have to take responsibility for their own lives and they won't if someone is always there to fix everything for them. So, Let Go! It sounds mean but it definitely doesn't help them if they end up taking you down with them. In that case, then neither one of you is benefitting.

10. Be enthusiastic and focus on your own energy
If you can be higher energy than they are then your energy will most likely start to rub off on those around you instead of the other way around. Also, the less you pay attention to them, the less they'll affect you.

In Summary
"Energy Vampires" are going to appear in and out of your life. The trick is to learn how to deal with them before they appear. If you don't then they truly will suck all your energy right out of you without you even realizing it. They will also be having a huge effect on your life and whether you're able to achieve your dreams and goals. Learn how to deal with negative people so that as Judy Orloff says you can, "be confident that no one can drain you if you don't cooperate". Your life will just instantly improve.

Thursday, May 29, 2008

Xenophobia round table discussion with Bishop Paul Verryn in Cape Town

Dear friends,


Pete http://www.rockingthegrass.blogspot.com sent me some information about this critical panel discussion in Cape Town. It would be wonderful to see as many people as possible there.

Xenophobia ? Why now, where to next?

Panellists

Bishop Paul Verryn (Methodist Church of Southern Africa)
Dr. Adekeye Adebajo (Centre for Conflict Resolution)
Mr. Patrick Chauke (Chairperson, Portfolio Committee on Home Affairs)



DATE: Tuesday 3 June 2008 VENUE: University of Cape Town, Humanities LT 1 (Graduate Building next to Leslie Social Sciences). For map see: http://www.uct.ac.za/images/uct.ac.za/contact/uctroadmap.jpg
TIME: 17:30 for 18:00 ? 19:30
RSVP: Friday 30 May to njaynes@ijr.org.za

Leaving Knysna (Plett), back to Cape Town for 'Half Time' conference

This morning we flew out from the quant little airport in Plett. We had a very rewarding time in Knysna with many opportunities to engage with local business and ministry partners.

We are now on our way back to Cape Town. I have a busy weekend ahead of me. Lloyd Reeb and Tiger Dawson from the 'Half Time' organisation (together with some other American friends) arrive in Cape Town this evening. We shall be having a startegic set of workshops with some of our region's top executives and political leaders to share the challenge of 're-tooling' their lives from being success driven to seeking to be significant within their sphere of influence for Christ and Christ's Kingdom - from success to significance. On Saturday afternoon we are meeting a few hundred Church leaders at the Soter Church in Parrow (2-6pm) to discuss and work out how we can form strategic partnerships to address some of the most pressing and significant needs in our community.

If you're in the Cape Town area and would like attend the Pastors meeting at Soter church please feel free to come along.

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Somewhere between Cape Town and Plettenberg bay

One of the incredible perks of my ministry is that I often get to participate in corporate functions (such as meetings, strategy sessions, and site visits). This morning I am on a flight in the company jet to Plettenber bay. From there we'll be going to Knysna for Southern Cape site visits and a company function this evening.

Being a minister in the marketplace is quite different from operating in and around a Church building. It presents one with many wonderful opportunities to offer counsel, influence important social and economic decisions, offer pastoral care, and model servant leadership.

My constant prayer is that I would always see this work as ministry - doing everything for the sake of Christ and Christ's Kingdom of mercy, justive, peace and love. I am humbled by this incredible opportunity.

Have a blessed day wherever you are! Never forget you're in the mission field!

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Seth Mokitimi Methodist seminary web page goes live!

The Seth Mokitimi Methodist Seminary web page has gone live this evening. Please have a look through and let me know what you think. Here is an excerpt from the website.

http://www.smms.org.za

What's in a name? Seth Mokitimi Methodist seminary.

Commenting on the news that the new Methodist Seminary in Pietermaritzburg would be named in honour of the late Rev. Seth Molefi Mokitimi, Mokitimi‚??s biographer, Dr Simon Gqubule, says that it is a "fitting name for the Seminary"Ě because Mr. Mokitimi spent most of his ministry in educational institutions.

Quite apart from being the first black President of Conference, Mr. Mokitimi's distinguished role in education culminated when he chaired the negotiations that established the Federal Theological Seminary of Southern Africa (Fedsem), where generations of ministers were trained.

Dr. Gqubule says that the link began when the Rev. Arthur Wellington, Governor of Healdtown Missionary Institution, was elected President of Conference in 1937. Wellington needed somebody trustworthy on campus while he travelled and appointed Mokitimi, one of his earlier students, to be Chaplain and Housemaster of the school attended, among others, by the young Simon Gqubule.

Mr. Mokitimi handled this task with distinction, gaining the affectionate nickname, 'The Brown Bomber' from the students. In 1951 he was the first African appointed as Governor of Osborn Mission, near Mount Frere, where he raised the Secondary School to High School status and built the 500-student Noniko hostel. In 1961 he succeeded the Rev. Price R. Mbete as Governor of Bensonvale Missionary Institution, near Sterkspruit, in the Eastern Cape.

Mr. Mokitimi was also Secretary of the Board of Examiners for many years, responsible for the studies of African Methodist probationer ministers throughout the Connexion (in those segregated days, sadly, there were still two Secretaries, one for African, and one for European, Coloured and Indian probationers).

Dr. Gqubule reminds us that this remarkable person was also a prolific hymn-writer, contributing 31 hymns to the Sesotho Hymn Book.

Meet The Brown Bomber ? An Account of the Life and Work of the Rev. Seth Molefi Mokitimi¬ is the title of Dr. Gqubule's biography, published by Lovedale Press.

To Do - tattoo

Not such a good idea... What do you think?


To-Do Tattoos are skin-safe to-do-list temporary tatts that come with a skin-safe felt-tip marker. I just draw on myself with a sharpie. Link

I like life! Ghostly photos of 'dead' offices...

Busy, busy, busy... That's how I like it. When things get too quiet I tend to get a little edgy.


Photographer Phillip Toledano's shoots of bankrupt offices were meant to be archaeological exercises, but the signs of life interrupted make them as ghostly as the frozen statues of Pompeii. Link (via Neatorama)


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Monday, May 26, 2008

Inspirational quote for today

'Never ask a person what computer he uses. If it's a Mac he'll tell you. If it's not, why embarrass him?'
- Tom Clancy (novelist)

Ha ha! I thought this was great! I need to read more Clancy!

Sunday, May 25, 2008

Press statement on the Church's response to the xenophobic attacks in Southern Africa

This afternoon the Consultation of Christian Churches in Cape Town issued the following statement to the Press. A challenge was issued to all Christiana across South Africa to stop and pray for 5 minutes each day at 12.00 noon, asking God to help us in this critical time in our nation's history. Archbishop Thabo Makgoba read the folllowing statement:

"We, as a body of concerned Church leaders in Cape Town, and representing a considerable majority of Christian citizens in this city and nation:

Taking into account the very real social, economic and racial complexities in the city

Note the very real concerns around the scourges of HIV, AIDS, poverty, crime and corruption

Conscious of the very real tensions that exist in the townships of this nation and

Mindful of how the people of Africa took in, cared, for supported and encouraged us in the dark days of Apartheid

Remind Christian citizens in our nation that God's Word, the Bible, commands that we care for, demonstrate compassion for, and support the foreigners who live among us. We are appalled at the violence that has wracked our city in the past days, and are shamed by the despicable treatment of men, women and children, and the theft and vandalising of property, by some of our citizens.

According to the dictionary an alien is: a resident born in or belonging to another country who has not acquired citizenship by naturalization, as distinguished from a citizen; a person who has been estranged or excluded. It also means an unnaturalized foreign resident of a country; a person from another and very different family, people, or place; a person who is not included in a group; an outsider.

We are aware that many of our people, once unwelcome in this the land of their birth, were treated kindly and generously by the peoples of the nations of Africa; at one time or another, many of our people lived in counties where they fitted the above descriptions of aliens, strangers and foreigners. Yet, despite this, they were treated well.

As Christians, we embrace the Old Testament teaching about strangers and aliens who are described as (1.) Those who were strangers generally, and who owned no landed property. (2.) Foreigners dwelling in another country without being naturalized. So the Holy Scripture says in Ps. 39:12: 12 "Hear my prayer, O LORD, listen to my cry for help; be not deaf to my weeping. For I dwell with you as an alien, a stranger, as all my fathers were.

Both of these classes of alien were to enjoy the same rights as other citizens, and God's people were commanded to show them kindness "as to their own". In Lev. 19:33, 34 we read "'When an alien lives with you in your land, do not mistreat him. 34 The alien living with you must be treated as one of your native-born. Love him as yourself, for you were aliens in Egypt. I am the LORD your God. And in Deut. 10:19 we read 19 ?And you are to love those who are aliens, for you yourselves were aliens in Egypt.

Turning to the New Testament, we remember that in sending his Son to live among us, God entered an alien environment. The brutal treatment that Jesus received at our hands should act as a permanent reminder to those of us who belong to Christ not to mistreat or oppress those who are foreigners among us.

We must also remember that we were once aliens and foreigners from God's Kingdom. In Eph. 2:12 we are urged to "remember that at that time you were separate from Christ, excluded from citizenship in Israel and foreigners to the covenants of the promise, without hope and without God in the world." Yet, God did not reject us, but reached out to us to include us in his covenant of grace.

Accordingly, we call on citizens of our nation:

To remember the kindness and generosity show to us by the people of Africa during the dark days of the struggle

To respond in kind by helping those who have been displaced by the current violence with shelter, blankets, food and any other assistance that may be required

To give thanks for the hospitality shown to our people in those days and for the kindness which has been shown in certain quarters to those seeking help and refuge in these difficult times

To respect the rights and dignity of all people to who are resident in this country, irrespective of colour, creed, language or nationality, to enjoy safety and security

To refrain from immediately from attacking, persecuting or damaging the property of any person considered an alien, foreigner or stranger

To seek ways in which, together with those from other countries, the social, political, economic and racial challenges of our country might be addressed

We also recognize that the tragic situation unfolding in our nation serves as a timely and ominous warning of the growing frustration of the poor & marginalized with the pace of delivery.

We further call on President Thabo Mbeki and our government to rapidly increase the pace of delivery and services in South Africa and to significantly increase efforts to bring justice, stability and peace to the suffering people of Zimbabwe.

We offer ourselves to serve and help mediate between estranged communities or groupings, and call upon all to refrain from either initiating or reacting to, violence against any other person.

On behalf of the CCC Church Leaders' Action Group."

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Response to the Xenophobia driven violence - Calvary Methodist Church

Here is a practical way in which we can show our Christian love and witness in this difficult time in our country's young democracy. I can personally vouch for the incredible work that Alan Storey and the Calvary Methodist Church do! I would wholeheartedly support their work! Please do spread this appeal as widely as you can via email or your blog.

Rich blessing from Cape Town!

Dion

Hi everyone,

You are surely aware of the Xenophobic attacks that have spread through many of our communities in Gauteng over the last 10 days. One area close to Calvary is Ivory Park ? Kanana section, where violence has left 5 people killed and many more beaten, traumatised and hundreds fleeing from their homes ? many of which have been burnt to the ground.

We have also had volunteers of one of the soup kitchens connected to Calvary threatened to stop feeding foreigners - - - we continue to do so but people are very angry and truth be told most of the foreigners are chased away before we even arrive to feed.

We have direct contact with around 400 displaced people staying at the Rabi Ridge police station. With others we are helping to provide food and clothing and blankets etc. If you are willing and able to assist with a donation ? please bring whatever you have to Calvary in Midrand or make a financial donation straight into our account using the reference REFUGEE. I guarantee you that every cent will go to where it is supposed to go and all donations will be accounted for.

If you have clothing to donate please bring it to the church where it is sorted into types and sizes and on the basis of interviews handed out to the relevant people in need. If you have time to help sort clothing at the Church ? this would also be appreciated. Other necessities needed:

Toilet Paper
Soap
Baby food / formula
Blankets
Fresh Vegetables for soups
Mielie meal

The situation on the ground is frighteningly desperate.

Bank: Standard Bank
Account Name: Calvary Methodist Church
Account Number: 202 539 962
Branch: Midrand (00 11 55) Reference: REFUGEE

If you have any questions don?t hesitate to phone me. 083 654 8568.

Thank you,
Alan


Alan Storey
Calvary Methodist Church ? Midrand
011 805 3375
083 654 8568

Sunday, May 18, 2008

A perfect afternoon in Paradise!

I arrived back from Israel on Thursday and it has been quite hectic at the office since then. Today, however, has been a lovely family day. This morning we woke up bright and early (as all parents of infants do!) and went off to Church at Coronation ave Methodist Church in Somerset West. Philip Buckland was preaching and he gave a superb message on the theme of Aldersgate (traditionaly 24 May is celebrated as the day on which John Wesley's heart was 'strangely warmed' by God's Spirit. This was a seminal event that led to the start of one of the world's most significant revivals! I am encouraged that Wesley was often missunderstood in those years - I have experienced the same in recent months since leaving the respectibility of my teaching post to join a worldwide prayer movement. Well, all that I can pray (in humility and grace) is that in some small way I would have the joy of facilitating revival through my ministry.

This afternoon, however, we're doing something that we haven't done in ages - we're going for a walk as a family! Partly we have not done so because I have not been able to walk since my accident! Gladly my cast is off and I can walk further each day without my crutches. Partly we have not been for walks such as these since we have not had anywhere safe or suitable to go for walks. Our new home is perfect for a bit of 'otium sanctum' [Latin for 'Holy leisure].

Praise God for days like these!

Oh, and the documentary 'One and undivided - the story of Paul Verryn' was screened, but not at 9h30, it was aired on SABC 2 at 11h30. It is an incredible story. I have it on DVD if anyone did not see it! I am so encouraged!

Saturday, May 17, 2008

A documentary on Bishop Paul Verryn and the Methodist Church of SA's role in working against Apartheid

Tomorrow morning (18 May 2008) at 9h30 am (CAT) a documentary entitled 'One and undivided' will be screened on SABC 2.

The documentary is part of a series called 'In the name of God'. It looks at various attempts to work against the evils of injustice by people of various faiths. Last year I was asked to be a part of this particular documentary on my friend Paul Verryn. Paul is a remarkable man, single minded, brave, eccentric, and of course also with a few 'rough edges'... All great people have a few of those (in my experience at least).

I would encourage you to tune in and watch the documentary. I haven't seen the final product myself, so it will be exciting to see how it comes together. If there is anyone out there who is able to tape it and send me a copy I would be eternally grateful! Please just drop me an email to arrange it.

Rich blessing!

Dion

Monday, May 12, 2008

Getting ready to head back to South Africa... Loosing my religion...

Tonight is my last night at the Crowne Plaza hotel in Jerusalem - we fly out at 1 AM on Wednesday morning (first to JHB, and then from there back to Cape Town where I land at around 2pm on Wednesday). I had the day off today (well, almost, we had two meetings this morning, but we were able to get away at around 1oam).

I spent the day with my friends Cois, Corne, Etienne, Wilma, Dawie and Isebel going through Hezekiah's tunnel at David's city (just outside of the Old City near the Western Wall). It was quite a challenge to make it through the tunnel on crutches, but I was adamant that I wanted to experience this! The tunnel itself was carved well over 2000 years ago. In some places one has to wade through water that is almost waste deep, however, for the most part it comes up to the top of one's calves. The challenge for me was that I had to remove my cast to walk through the tunnel, and in places it was narrow and low - so using crutches was not all that easy. However, it was a great experience! I couldn't do it last time I was here, and when our group went out the other day I was in the studio and meetings, so I was pleased to do it today.

Now, on to what truly matters!

Yesterday the Global Day of Prayer was such a wonderful blessing and encouragement. It was magnificent to see Christians from 214 of the world's 220 countries praying in various manners and contexts (from the Orthodox Christians in Egypt to the Charismatic Christians in Texas, Catholics in Latin America to Messianic Jews here in Jerusalem). The purpose of the movement is very simple:

1. For 10 days we encourage people to pray ardently for the struggles, joys, and contextual issues that they are faced with in their communities. In many contexts 'houses of prayer' are formed in communites where Churches work together to pray for 24 hours a day, for 7 days a week. Naturaly we give some prayer pointers and guidance, but the idea is simply that people will pray for the needs they are aware of, ask God to give them insight, guidance, help, and counsel to work for the establishment of God's Kingdom of grace and blessing.

2. The Global day of Prayer normally takes place on Pentecost Sunday each year. On this day people gather in various forms throughout the nations of the world. In some places (like India) there are huge public gatherings of hundres of thousands of persons, in other places, like Lebanon, people will meet in private homes, or small Churches. The idea is that people across the world will gather together on one day of the year (Pentecost Sunday in the Latin calendar) to humble themselves, pray, seek God's forgiveness, and ask God to hear and answer their prayers. Most of these events have a mix of worship, some teaching, and communal prayer. There is a prayer for the world that is said in the many languages of the world (see the Global Day of Prayer website for the prayer).

3. This is followed up by 90 days of blessing - here Churches and communities are encouraged to find creative and practical ways to address the issues that they have prayed about. In most instances there is an encouragement to address the practical and felt needs of communities (food, clothing, job creation, fixing up schools, helping in hospitals etc.) This year there has been the added challenge for Christians to read the Bible in 90 days.

Amazingly, even though I have read through the Bible numerous times, I did not realise that you can actually read the whole Bible in 90 days if you simply read for 1 hour a day. If you're interested in signing up to read through the Bible with about 100 thousand other Christians then please follow this link to the Bible Marathon sign up page.

Well, yesterday was a truly special day here in Jerusalem. I spent most of the day outside the Jerusalem Convention centre at a mobile studio with Graham Power. From there various interviews were conducted, information was shared about the various nations, gatherings, and the movemnt itself. In total the broadcast lasted for 18 hours (which is more or less how long it takes from sunrise in Fiji until the sun sets on the last gathering place, Hawai). I was so touched to see children, parents, and diverse Christian communities gathering in such harmony and joy to worship the Lord and pray.

I will confess that it is truly a blessing to be out of the conflict and struggle of leading the seminary and be doing this work! Somehow working with lay Christians seems to have a lot less trouble! Maybe I am still in the honeymoon period? I will ALSO confess that there were some expressions of worship and prayer that were not quite my style. More than once I had to ask for grace to leave space for some of the more charismatic and pentecostal expressions to have the space they deserve within the diversity of our Christian world. There are some hectic ways in which people express their devotion and sincerity to the Lord!

Perhaps the most encouraging part of the day for me was meeting with the son of my friends Graham and Daine Vermooten (who run the Media Village in Cape Town as a base for YWAM). Their son has been doing mission (Discipleship training) here in Jerusalem. He and the rest of their group came and prayed with us last night. This is a new generation of believers! They are young (all in their late teens and early 20's). Most of them have multiple tattoos! The one young guy you see here (John) has the name of Jesus tatooed on his neck! He also has other tatoos to remind him of the how God graciously rescued him from a life of addiction to drugs (Meth, cocaine, and herion). These young people skate in the streets of Jerusalem, befriend young people, and share their faith through their love. With dreadlocked hair, multiple piericings, and passion for the way of Jesus they are making a huge impact upon this city! Their aim was to win over religion with love! Doesn't that sound absolutely fantastic!? To win over religion through love!. They prayed passionately for us to serve God with courage and integrity. I was blessed and touched by their love for Jesus and the Gospel of Christ. I feel that I am loosing my religion - and it is good! I think this new generation doesn't see the distinction between conservative and evangelical, between liberals and charismatics.... They understand that Jesus wants to address the social needs of people, but also that people need to deal with their sin and cultivate a passionate relationship with Christ!

Well, tomorrow we have a few meetings to wrap up our time here and plan for some events later in the year (some of the folks we have working with later in the year - we have a critical meeting in London in September where a number of prayer, youth, mission and Church groupings will be meeting to work out creative and fresh ways to bring the Gospel, contextually, to young and old across the Globe. Then we are also going to be in Argentina, Chile, and Brazil in October for the ITN and Harvest evangelism meetings which aim to help create strategic alliances between people who minister in Churches and in wider society (what we call 'marketplace', i.e., among educators, politicians and business people).

The work I am doing now is so exciting - I am truly grateful to God for the blessed opportunity to be part of such great things! But, heck, I miss Megan, Courtney and Liam!!!!!!!!!

Megie's birthday is on the 19th of May, I am so pleased that I'll be home for that.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Global day of prayer - transmitting live from Jerusalem on Pentecost Sunday 2008

Today is Pentecost Sunday, yesterday we spent a wonderful time praying in the Upper Room site in Jerusalem. This first image shows a young man from Ghana (Peter Serekewa) praying with a gradnfather from Cape Town (AyJay Jaantjies), asking that God would heal the relationships between generations in cities across the world.

We currently have 214 of the world's 220 nations praying together in small and large events throughout the world. We have just heard that San Marino is now also on board with prayer and repentance!

The Global Day of Prayer is a simple process where we encourage Christians simply to pray for their families, cities and nations, asking God to intervene in the key issues that they are facing (whether it be violence, poverty, dissease, crime, or whatever the struggles are). You can read more about it on the Global day of prayer website.

As I write this I am sitting at the GodTV studio where the satelite linkups from across the world are coming through and being beamed across the globe. As the sun rises (from Fiji to Hawai) we are celebrating with Christians the joy of knowing that God has a real concern for the needs of people, that when the body of Christ is united, faithful in prayer, and active in ministry, we can see God's loving Kingdom established as justice, mercy, love and blessing flow from God through the Church. If you're in South Africa and want to tune your DSTV decoder into GodTV for free, please follow this link and follow the instructions to tune in your decoder. Of course, you can also watch some of the feed online at GodTV.

Here's a Youtube Video that tells the story of the Global Day of Prayer:



Please pray with us, and for us, as we celebrate the outpouring of God's Spirit to empower us establish God's gracious Kingdom here on earth!

Just to mention that I am updating my blog a little less frequently at the moment. Partly it is becuase things are quite hectic, but also because internet access is quite scarce (and EXPENSIVE!!!) here in Jerusalem!

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Saturday, May 10, 2008

In the city of David, Jerusalem (on crutches)

Today we visited the City of David in the old city of Jerusalem - it was wonderful to walk on the old walls of Jerusalem that date back to the Ottoman Empire, and even earlier to the Canaanite period.

One of the things that has left such a strong impression upon me on this second visit to Israel has been the sense of history here. In South Africa we have very few buildings that are older than 400 years. Here one can walk in a single street and see modern buildings, and right next to those buildings that are over 2000 years old!

I must confess, however, that it has been a bit of a challenge doing this trip on crutches. My leg has held up well, but I have had to take some medication to stop the swelling and pain. However, I would gladly do this all again!

Friday, May 09, 2008

Back to Jerusalem.

Yesterday we travelled back from the Galilee to Jerusalem. I was impressed, once again, by the distance that Jesus would have covered on foot as he moved towards his death. Not only is it far, but it is also a very steep climb up from the coast!

I do believe that Israel (both as a region and as a cultural and religious grouping) have a special place in Biblical history. I am, however, not convinced that the Zionist agenda (to 'restore Israel' as a sovereign state) is in line with Christian theology. I am open to correction and being convinced. However, I think that issues of justice and God's universal evangelical agenda supercede a nationalist Jewsish state.

One of the problems is that many texts related to Israel and Jerusalem (e.g., Psalm 122 and Ezekiel 36) are read by contemporary Christians without any acknowledgement of the fact that these texts have their own social, contextual and historical setting. It is a mistake, by my mind, simply to think that one can give 'eternal prophetic' status to texts such as these and ignore other texts in scripture that speak of justice, mercy, peace, and God's love for all nations. I think Ezekeil 36:22, together with Acts 1:1-11 show that with the ascension and Pentecost God's missiological agenda shifted from the geography and bloodline of Israel to the Kingdom of God throughout the world, among all people. The 'sons of Abraham' according to both Pauline teaching (see Romans and Galatians) are now counted as such not because of their bloodline, but because of their faith!

So, don't get me wrong, I do pray for the peace of Jerusalem - but I also pray for the peace of Darfour and Zimbabwe etc. This is a special place, but God loves other places and people with the same passion and grace.

Let me know if I'm missing something.

Shalom from Jerusalem! Today we shall pray at the City of David. You may notice thay I am not uploading as many pictures. There are two reasons for this. First, I have not found too many things that I felt were of interest in the last day or so. Second, internet access has been somewhat problematic and unreliable.

Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tiberius at night - celebrating 60 years of Israeli 'indipendance'

What a lovely evening here in Tiberius. Today the Israeli public are celebrating 60 years of 'independence'. I know that this is a contentious celebration, and so security is SUPER tight!

It is fantastic to see the national pride (although, I do believe it is a little misguided). I would have loved to have my family at an open air event like this back home.

Praying on the border between Syria and Israel

This is a remarkable sight! This border is such a contested area (the subject of two wars between Israel and Syria). It is so peaceful here today. As we prayed we could see the UN embargo zone, tanks, troops and army intelligence in the area.

Sadly there is such a sense of 'self righteousness' among many Christian Zionists. The truth is that Israel does so much to infringe on the rights of their neighbours. Many of the persons on our tour do not share my views - however, I am convinced that Israel will need to repent and turn from injustice to justice and mercy (as all nations should) for there to be true peace in this region.

Caeseria Philipi - 'Who do you say that I am?'

Here at the border of modern Lebanon, on the foot of Mount Hermon in Caeseria Philipi Jesus asked Peter the question 'who do you say that I am?' It is amazing that he asks this question at an ancient pagan site, the temple of Pan.

Tuesday, May 06, 2008

Worship and testimony with Arab Christians in Nazareth

We are at the Nazareth Baptist Church for a meeting with Christians from the Nazareth region tonight. It is so wonderful to experience worship with an Arabic flavour! There are about 100 Christians gathered. We have come together to encourage one another, to share the blessing of Christian unity with one another and to learn from each other.

I forget, sometimes, that the Church throughout the world is so much more diverse than just western and African forms. What a joy and a blessing to be here.

The Christians here are so passionate about their faith (even though they are a minority community among Muslims), they have such a firm commitment to proclaiming the Gospel, and making it visible through acts of Christian service and mercy. I am deeply encouraged!

The hills of Nazareth

This afternoon we are in Nazareth for some sight seeing and meetings with some Church leaders. Nazareth is a lovely, predominanlty Arabic city, in the country. We spent some time at 'Nazareth village' learning some interesting facts about life at the time of Jesus. Geography, history, vegitation and a host of other things truly bring the scriptures to life!

Inside the Church of the beatitudes - the core of my faith

We have just left a wonderful, quiet, time at the Church of the beatitudes in Galilee.

Yesterday someone asked me if there were any passages in scripture that form the core of my faith. Indeed, there are, they are Micah 6:8, Luke 4:17-19, and the whole of the beatitudes (Matthew 5 & 6).

I am so drawn to this gospel, this good news, that has a real practical impact upon the lives of real people with real world pressures and struggles. Justice, mercy, humility and love - these are the hallmarks of Christ's loving Gospel. The teaching and ecample of Jesus echo God's radical hospitality, the hospitality that offers welcome and shelter first, and then only seeks to bring renewal and change.

I love this God, this Christ, and this Gospel, and I love the Gospel way of life.

Praying on the sea of Galillee

This morning our group (which has members from South Africa, the USA, Uganda, Zimbabwe, Singapore, Namibia etc.) took two hours to pray about the concerns that we face in our Churches and nations. It is wonderful to see 'mainline' Christians, evangelicals, orthodox and Catholic Christians praying for the needs of the people among whome they live.

Issues of poverty, justice, sickness, the economies, education, safety etc., were all raised and prayed about.

In this picture you can see some members of the group on one of the wooden boats just off the coast of the modern resort city of Tiberius.

Monday, May 05, 2008

Filming Global day of Prayer spot on the sea of Galilee

Here we are at the sea of Galilee, it is a fresh water sea that is 230 meters below sea level. Jesus performed 25 of his 33 miracles in the region of this sea. It is lovely out here just as the sun is setting, we've hired one of the wooden fishing boats for the shoot. We did an earlier shoot at the Jordan, I'll post some pictures if I get a chance.

Filming on top of Massada

This was us filmimg today's insert for the Global Day of Prayer http://www.globaldayofprayer.com on the top of Massada.

At this point we have 212 of the world's 220 nations praying during the 10 days of prayer leading up to the global day of prayer on the 11th of May 2008 which will be linked and broadcast from Jerusalem with live feeds coming in from across the world.

Massada in the morning

It's just after sunrise and we are climbing up the Roman rampart to Massada. This is a very moving place. The price of war is incredible. It is so sad that we sacrifice the lives of others at the altar of ideological difference. As we arrived whole groups of paratroopers (17 and 18 year old boys) were on their way down the mountain after a few days of very hard training (what we called 'vasbyt'). I was so sad for them!

I did not enjoy being in the army when I was conscripted, I could not imagine sending my son (let alone my daughter like in Israel). Very sad!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

At the waterfall in En Gedi

Here's a picture of Graham Power and I at the waterfall in En Gedi. This is an incredible oasis in the dessert! It is quite a climb to get up here, but I made it in my crutches (the secret is that I have 4x4 traction control in my legs!)

En Gedi is the area in which David spared King Saul's life in a cave. You can read about it in the Bible, here 1 Sam 23:29 - 24:1 forward.

What a great afternoon with my friends! We swam in the dead sea, came here, and now we are on our way into the desert to stay in a Bedoin tent.

Tomorrow morning we awake very early, and go to Massada where we shall film further inserts for the 'Global day of prayer' daily TV shorts.

Swimming at the dead sea!

This is the lowest place on earth (about 400 metres below sea level). We we're floating in the dead sea (it has 35% salinity, the normal salt content of the sea is only 3%!)

This is a picture of friends Corne (right) and Cois (left) de Kock - they're covered in the mineral rich mud (for which Ahava cosmetics is famous for).

Qumran community - where the 'dead see scrolls' were found

It is hot out in the desert today. We're at the Qumran site where one of the most important documents in Semitic religious history was found.

This is a fascinating place!

Saturday, May 03, 2008

Filming for Global Day of Prayer at the Jerusalem Convention centre

Today we filmed some more inserts for the Global Day of Prayer - http://www.globaldayofprayer.com

Here you see Graham Power and Peter Sorokewa (from Ghana). I was filmed doing a communion service at the garden tomb. It is quite nerve wracking!

This photo was taken at the Jerusalem convention centre.

By the way, I'll be on a documentary that is shown on SABC 2 on Sunday 18 May, 9h30 am entitled 'One and undivided' about Bishop Paul Verryn.

An 'Apple shop' in the Old City of Jerusalem... An ancient iPod anyone?

Yup, an Apple shop in the old city of Jerusalem... I wonder how much an iPod from the time of Jesus costs?

Inside the Church of the Holy Sephulcer

The heading says it all! This is quite an experience, each time I see it I am surprised by how many people it attracts.

The 'old city' of Jerusalem

This photo was taken just inside the 'beautiful' gate past the pools of Bethesda and the Chapel of St Anne (the mother of Mary). This is the first station of the cross on the via dolorosa (the way of the cross).

The pools of Bethesda

Here are the excavations of the pools of Bethesda. This was where Abraham was ready to sacrifice his son Isaac, it later became the pools where the Jews cured the animals for sacrifice that had impurities or broken limbs (quite appropriate) before they were taken to the temple to be sacrificed. Jesus also performed his third miracle here when he healed the man who had been paralised for 38 years.

The house of Ciaphas, the pit (Psalm 88)

This picture shows the excavations of the house of Ciaphas and the pit where Jesus was held on the night before he was crucified.

While in the pit Jesus prayed Psalm 88. It is encouraging to know that the Lord also felt hardship and struggle, yet presented himself to God for mercy and care.

Sabbath at the Western Wall (the temple mount)

A photo of the start of the Sabbath at the Western Wall (also called the wailing wall). Well, actually the Sabbath will start at 18h30, it is now 16h30.

It is great to be back again.

An absolutely unique view of the dome of the rock and the temple mount.

This must surely be one of the most special views of the old city of Jerusalem, as you look out over the city you can see the temple mount and the 'dome of the rock'.

We had a very special prayer time here this morning.

Prayers for day two of the ten days of prayer before Pentecost

This afternoon we gathered to pray as a group. For 10 days people throughout the world are preparing for the Global Day of Prayer where 212 of the world's 220 nations will join in united prayer for our world, and God's gracious desire and will for the world.

This photograph was taken in the 'prayer tower' where Christians from all denominations gather to pray 24 hours a day, 7 days a week throughout the year. The prayer tower is at the top of an office block on the Jaffa road in Jerusalem. It is quite a unique experience to be here with Dutch Reformed, Catholic, Charismatic, Methodist, Anglican, and a whole host of other Christians.

Today we prayed:

- That God would unite Christians in prayer, empowering people to pray pasionately for Christ's glory to be revealed in all the world.
- That God would hear and answer the prayers of the poor, the young and the marginalised, and that God would be glorified in their praises.
- That believers would be inspired by the Holy Spirit to bless their neighbours and friends.
- That where there are need in communities throughout the world people would be bold enough to call upon God for help, and bold enough to offer practical help to those who are in need.

To access a copy of the 10 day prayer guide please see the 10 days section of the Global day of prayer website - http://www.globaldayofprayer.com to download a PDF copy.

Friday, May 02, 2008

A picture of the Emmaus chapel ruins.

This is a picture of the ruins of the chapel at Emmaus (read about it in Luke 24). After Jesus was crucified Cleopas (meaning a well known father) and his unknown companion were travelling from Jerusalem to Emmaus.

The georgraphy of their trip is interesting (I have blogged this previousl, so please forgive me!) They are journeying, downhearted and dejected from Jerusalem (in the East, where the sun rises and thet day begins) westward towards Emmaus where the sun sets and the darkness of night consumes them. Yet, it is in this dark place that they encounter the Lord in the breaking of bread! The experience is so significant that they are inspired to return and share the good news of his resurection from the dead with the disciples who remain fearful in the upper room.

This return to light, so to speak (from West to East) marks the dawn of a new era in the faith. Apostolic witness is extended beyond the remaining 11 disciples, and it the good news is shared through unknown people (a famous father and his unknown companion)!

Anyway, I thought this geography added an interesting layer to the Lukan Emmaus narrative.

Of course one could also consider the elements of topography (i.e. The fact that the journey from Jerusalem to Emmaus is from the mountains down to the coastal plain - a depression of sorts, and then a hard return to the city. But, that is a heresy for another post!)

By the way, can anyone tell me what data will cost on roaming (MTN on Orange Israel?)

Tel Aviv in the morning

We landed in Tel Aviv this morning at 6am Israeli time (that's 5am South African time). We were greeted by a lovely sunrise. We're off to the Western Wall today. I hope to post pictures as I am able. We're now on our way past Emmaus.

It is great to be back in Israel.

Thursday, May 01, 2008

Let the games begin...

This is what I'm taking to Israel. The most important piece of kit are my crutches... At least with these they believe me when the steel pin in my leg sets off the security alarm!